Chicago is a marvelous place to eat out any time, but some places go out of their way to offer specials for specific occasions. Too bad about the Bears, but you can still enjoy Super Bowl goodies in places around Chicago. And of course, it’s not too early to plan your Valentine’s Day – or anti-Valentine’s Day – celebration. And then, imagine this: a very large authentic Italian eatery opening up just down the street from – you guessed it – Eataly!
Ella Elli (1349 W. Cornelia Ave) in Lakeview offers a chic alternative to the Super Bowl. No TVs on Super Bowl Sunday but you can have flights of rosé wines, rosé cocktails and frosé! Regular brunch menu from 10am to 2:30pm and dinner from 4 to 10pm. The “Super Bites” menu includes Shrimp Avocado Salad, pink shrimp with diced avocado, red onion and cilantro in a grapefruit-honey vinaigrette with crispy pita chips ($9); French Onion Dip and Chips, creamy onion dip with crispy pancetta and housemade potato chips ($6); Prosciutto Meatballs, fontina-stuffed beef and prosciutto meatballs simmered in a spicy tomato basil sauce over creamy polenta ($8); Potato Croquettes, three crispy parmesan potatoes with spicy Calabrian-Chile aioli and cilantro ($6); and Nduja-Stuffed Dates, over Gorgonzola fondue and topped with Marcona almonds ($7).
Smoke Daddy (1804 W Division St.) in Wicker Park welcomes Super Bowl fans for the game from 4 to 9pm for an all-you-can-eat pig roast buffet and build-your-own chili bar – all for $20 per person (plus tax and gratuity)! Price also includes one Lagunitas pint. Reservations are strongly recommended; call 773.772.6656. OR pick your favorites from their popular catering menu for any Super Bowl party. Options include their signature wings ($30 feeds 10, $55 feeds 20), BBQ sliders ($40 feeds 10, $75 feeds 20), mac and cheese ($25 feeds 10, $45 feeds 20) and more. A la carte options include pulled pork ($16 per lb.), St. Louis-style ribs ($20 per lb.) and BBQ beans ($14 per lb.). Orders must be made by January 31 via email (email@example.com) or phone (773.772.6656).
STK Chicago, 9 W. Kinzie St., revs up the winter with fun specials like Game Day at STK. The Bears may be done, but you can still celebrate Super Bowl on Feb. 4 with $3 beers and $5 bites, plus a special half-time performance. Office Hours – Every Sunday thru Thurs 5 to 7pm, STK Chicago’s own take on happy hour gets you specific menu items like $5 cocktails and $7 small plates like Lil’ BRGs, Tuna Tartare, Crispy Rock Shrimp and more. Then consider Wine Down Wednesdays – half off bottles of wine every Wednesday.
ETA Restaurant + Bar, located inside Loews Chicago Hotel at 455 N. Park Dr., has lots of winter fun specials. Snow Days – warm up at ETA every time it snows in Chicago. $1 off Local Stops and Exotic Locations cocktails for every inch of snow predicted in the forecast (maximum 10 inches) that day by www.weather.com for zip code 60611. $10 off your cocktail! Chicago Restaurant Week, ETA Restaurant + Bar will be participating for the first time this year – special prix-fixe menu for lunch ($22++) or dinner ($33++). Game Day Specials, February 4. Sit down in front of the 7’ by 12’ TV screen in the hotel lobby to enjoy the Big Game, and chow down on menu items like ETA Burger (double patty, gouda, crispy onions, and tomato jam, $17), the Brat in a Blanket (with hot pepper jam, $10), and Chicken Wings (choice of bacon-buffalo sauce or garlic-parmesan sauce, $14), plus snacks and beer specials. Pro- or Anti-Valentine’s Day weekend! February 14-17 – enjoy the 4 Cs of Valentine’s Day (hint: Cupid isn’t one of them!): [fried] Chicken, Champagne, Cake, and Comfort. Whether you’re pro- or anti-Valentine’s Day, you can enjoy 3 days of special deals at ETA. From February 14-17, buckets of Hot Sauce Fried Chicken are only $39 each – a whole bird (8 pieces) served with buttermilk biscuits and house-made jam ($39). Champagne – splits of JP Chenet, Rosé Dry are $15. Chocolate Stout Cake – Nutella ganache, chocolate pretzels, and cherries ($9) makes the perfect dessert to enjoy with friends in the Comfort of ETA’s cozy ambiance.
Cupitol Coffee + Eatery, 455 E. Illinois St. (and 812 Grove St. Evanston) will donate all hot and iced latte proceeds to Open Heart Magic, a Chicago-based, non-profit that uses the therapeutic power of magic and laughter to energize seriously ill children. Additionally, they will also offer Chocolate Dipped Strawberries at each location two for $2. Cupitol lattes feature a specialty espresso blend imported exclusively from Europe that’s based on 100% Arabica beans. Lattes include theChai, Mocha, Nutella, Vanilla, Caramel and Hazelnut Latte. Drink ’em regular or dairy-free with coconut or almond milk. But the menu also features full breakfast, lunch and dinner options plus pastries from the in-house bakery. Both locations open on Valentine’s Day from 7am to 9pm.
Coming soon! Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano, 22 W. Ohio, opens its authentic Northern Italian full-service restaurant and bar in March 2018. It’s just down the street from Eataly Chicago, in the former Rev Burger space. With 2,300 square feet to accommodate 50-60 guests, the new 100% Italian – from kitchen equipment to tiles – restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a full bar, say founders Michael and Mary Meranda. Look for Italian dishes like Tigelle, an Italian small, round, thickish flat bread and Gnocco Fritto, an Italian bread typically sliced into diamond shapes and then fried. Meet friends and relax at the espresso and breakfast bar and the chef’s table where you might even get tastes not yet on the menu. We can always hope that the prices will be a bit less daunting than some of those at Eataly!
Love to learn about the specials some of our Chicago restaurants put together for the holidays. Fun. Festive. Food and drink to celebrate with. Check out these news bytes about 6 of them. And Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, etc. etc.
Naoki Fried Chicken – December 22nd & 23rd only. Naoki’s savory Japanese-style fried chicken, prepared by half or whole bird and served with Yuzo coleslaw, Roasted sweet potatoes and Teriyaki & Toban Jan dipping sauces. Available dine in or carry-out. To place an order or make a reservation, call 773-868-0002.
Texas de Brazil, 210 E. Illinois, will open early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (11am to 9pm) with their full rodizio-style menu available all day, as well as Horseradish Crusted Ribeye (a special holiday item). Pricing for Chicago here and Schaumburg here. Closed on Christmas Day, but open regular hours with the regular menu on New Year’s Day.
The Shelby, 2759 W. Augusta Blvd. (their website isn’t up yet but Google has reviews) opened December 19. Open 5pm weeknights, and 11am Saturday and Sunday. Casual restaurant/bar with a hearty beer program, a full bar, and Chef (formerly with Haywood Tavern, Bite Cafe, Longman & Eagle, and Spiaggia) Rodney Staton-created snacks, salads, and a load-your-own burger and baked potato program. Enjoy their no-bull approach to food, drink, socializing, and service in soulful, well-worn surroundings (denim upholstery, dark wood carpentry, whitewashed brick walls, and canary yellow stools), and with a soundtrack influenced by the Memphis music scene: Stax records artists, Sun records’ Big Star, Isaac Hayes, and The Grifters, to name a few.
ENO Wine Room, 505 N. Michigan in the InterContinental Hotel, will be popping bubbles every hour to ring in 2018. Learn about ENO’s New Year’s Eve celebration here. If you’d rather celebrate at home, ENO’s General Manager and champagne expert, Amanda Herrell, suggests breaking out the bubbly bar yourself! Her beverage and food pairing recommendations include: Don’t feel pressured to serve only champagne! Other good dry bubbles: Crémant de Bourgogne, Cava, and Franciacorta. Sweeter tasty bubbles: Lambrusco, Brachetto, and Moscato d’Asti. Pair them well! With dry bubbles, stick with rich triple cream cheese. The rich and decadent flavors will be complemented by the bubbles. For the sweeter bubbly drinks, indulge in foie gras mousse. The effervescence combined richness and the berry flavor of the wine will mesh well with the savory dish.
Celebrate the New Year at Ceres Table, 3124 N. Broadway. Sunday, December 31 | 5:00pm – 11:00pm (reservation times) A special four-course, regional Italian meal, presented by Executive Chef Steven O’Neill. For $55/person (*Special: reservations before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm, only $45/person) guests will enjoy their choice of one dish per course from the complete menu.
Lowcountry, 1132 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago’s premier boil-in-a-bag seafood destination announces a second location opening in the South Loop early 2018. At Lowcountry South Loop, the magic four steps remain the same: choose your protein, like snow crab legs, head-on shrimp, mussels and more, then choose a sauce, a spice level, and add-ons like corn, sausage, and potatoes. New boil combinations launch upon opening, and now you can get pre-set seafood bags built for one, two, three, or four people filled with a variety of shellfish and add-ons. Love the music on their website!
The holidays for many ethnic groups are fast approaching. and Mago Grill & Cantina has the perfect addition to any celebration table. Mago is featuring a full size (9”) Eggnog Tres Leches and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Flan inspired by Chef Juan’s late grandmother’s holiday recipes, both $35, through December 31. They are both available with just 24-hour notice at any Mago Grill & Cantina location (Chicago, Arlington Heights, Bolingbrook or South Barrington). Perfect for those last-minute Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas dessert needs!
You might be surprised to learn there is a large Mexican-Jewish community in Chicago that draws influences from both cuisines. To honor this group, Mago decided to combine traditional Hanukkah dishes with a Latin flare, thus culinarily fusing Mexican and Jewish culture. Hanukkah Menu Items available only 12/12/17 – 12/20/17)
Playing off the traditional Hanukkah short rib meal, Mago will offer a limited-time Beef Short Rib entrée for $26 (Pulque braised, fork tender beef short rib served with Mole de Manzana, or Apple Mole and cilantro potato latkes). Or try Roasted Half Chicken for $20 (wild mushroom huitlacoche cream, roasted Yukon gold potatoes).
Honoring the Jewish tradition of eating apples with honey during Rosh HaShanah, Guava and Apple Crisp dessert for $8 (Baked granny smith apples with guava topped with a cinnamon crumble). Apples in the cocktail line: La Manzanita cocktail for $13 (Apple & cinnamon infused Patron Blanco Tequila, apple cider, fresh lime juice).
Mac and Cheese Day – 7/14: Get cheesed with Spin Dip Mac at Jake Melnick’s. Jake’s Creamy house-made mac n’ cheese is tossed with their creamy spinach artichoke dip, topped with cheddar and Swiss cheese then baked until golden. Garnished with fresh tomato, Parmesan, pita chips and Sriracha crema.
Ice Cream Day – 7/19: Treat yourself to Jake Melnick’s Hot Fudge Sundae ($6.25) after a “fish” dinner.
The Asian B.L.T.T. is the perfect summer burger featuring a hand-packed Ahi Tuna burger, topped with smoked teriyaki bacon, wasabi ranch salad and crispy wontons. The salad is on the burger so it counts, right? BTW, July is Ice Cream Month so don’t hold yourself back from celebrating all month long!
International Chicken Wing Day – 7/29: Grab a basket of the Spicy Pina Colada Wings, the perfect celebration flavor. Jake’s jumbo wings are fried until crispy, tossed in their house-made spicy pina colada sauce and garnished with toasted coconut. Served with Ranch dressing.
Oh, and just in case you don’t have enough carbs, it’s also National French Fry day on Friday, 7/14. Jake’s will be selling $5 specialty baskets this Friday, the 14th including the Breakfast and Street Fries.
As the temperatures continue to be chillingly above normal, we can all feel free to keep exploring our restaurant options, sans hoods, gloves and scarves. Check these announcements out:
Seaside’s opens Monday, March 13 for carryout and delivery from the team behind Oyster Bah in Lincoln Park. The menu focuses on fried chicken, slow-cooked BBQ ribs, fresh Maine lobster, and sides, all fit for sharing. Harking back to childhood memories of the Jersey Shore, Oyster Bah and Shaw’s Crab House Partner, Bill “Seaside” Nevruz, brings family-style simple, delicious fare to take-home .
Seaside’s shares kitchen space at Oyster Bah. Order in person or online for pick up Mondays-Thursdays 5 -10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 4 – 11pm, and Sundays from 4 – 9pm. Or get delivery through the Door Dash app. Right now, diners who place an order through Door Dash can receive $5 off (with a minimum purchase of $15) by using promo code LETTUCEEATS.
Ella Elli, 1349 W. Cornelia Ave., the eleventh concept by 4 Star Restaurant Group (Tuco and Blondie, Crosby’s Kitchen, Remington’s), opened in Lakeview just off Southport Avenue last night, Tuesday, March 6. With culinary operations led by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman and branding and design development by Chicago-based Grip (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster), the 75-seat concept is a warm, intimate lounge space to enjoy cuisine created with global influences, a unique wine list and classic cocktails.
Guests can enjoy dishes by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman, alongside Executive Chef Nolan Narut that range from charcuterie and toasts, vegetables and salads to pizzas and pastas, meats, fish, and desserts. Cured Meats and Pickles, Artisanal Cheeses and Steak Tartar, with toast options like the Prosciutto Butter Toast with radish and dill.
Vegetables and salads are stand-outs at Ella Elli. Crispy Grain Salad with goat cheese and shaved vegetables, Roasted Carrots with crème fraiche, harissa and pickled celery. From the wood-burning pizza oven comes Roasted Oyster Mushroom with goat cheese. Pastas include Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower, mint and chilies. Seafoods include Hamachi Crudo with persevered lemon relish and Wood-Oven Octopus with crispy potatoes and salsa verde. Meats: Burger Au Poivre with St. André triple cream and watercress, or Lamb Scottadito with spiced yogurt and harissa. Desserts include Profiteroles with mint gelato and espresso dark chocolate sauce, and Spanish Blue Cheese Beignets with cardamom powedered sugar, fresh lemon and fig-balsamic glaze.
Nando’s PERi-PERi, the South African-Portuguese restaurant known worldwide for its spicy flame-grilled chicken, hatches two new Chicagoland restaurants this month in Skokie and Oakbrook. Nando’s will pay it forward by donating 100 percent of sales each opening day to support student programs at Niles North High School and Hinsdale Central High School.
• SKOKIE: Nando’s ninth Chicago location will open on Sunday, November 13, in Westfield Old Orchard mall. Nando’s will donate opening-day sales to Niles North High School. The restaurant is located at 4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL. Phone: 847-972-6833
• OAKBROOK: Nando’s tenth Chicago location will open on Sunday, November 20, in Oakbrook Center. Nando’s will donate opening-day sales to Hinsdale Central High School. The restaurant is located at 523 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, IL. Phone: 630-230-4348
Opening-day sales in Skokie will be donated to the Niles North High School’s “Dance Marathon” charity organization, with proceeds earmarked for local families and students in need and for Hope Junior, an afterschool program that offers children and teens high-quality after-school program activities throughout Chicago. Opening-day sales in Oakbrook will be donated to the Hinsdale Central High School’s performing arts program, to help offset costs of five plays and musicals this school year.
Nando’s 11th Chicagoland location opens in mid-January 2017 in the Hyde Park neighborhood, at 1447 E. 53rd Street near the University of Chicago.
Go enjoy some Nando’s and painlessly and deliciously support your local school!
Knife, 4343 N. Lincoln Ave., opened for business this week. Steak and seafood abound, and every creative item on the menu is presented with passion, precision and love in awarm and intimate atmosphere. Knife is brought to you by David and Paula Byers and Chef Tim Cottini, the team behind the popular Lincoln Square restaurant, Fork.
At first glance, the handsomely designed menu is understated and traditional-sounding, but the element of surprise will be ever-present in each dish. “We want to take the essence of a classic dish and re-create it in a unique way,” said Chef Cottini, who understands that, “We first eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths. The visual impact of the food will be almost as important as the taste.” Throughout the menu, Chef Cottini maintains a high standard using locally sourced, quality seasonal ingredients, as he transforms the traditional into the unexpected.
Knife is modernizing the old-school steakhouse mentality and ambiance. It will raise expectations of what a steakhouse can be while paying homage to menu classics. Promoting culinary creativity and cultural fusion is what makes this restaurant truly American.
Menu Rundown The dinner menu is clearly organized into six sections: Appetizers, Chilled Plates, Salad & Soup, Entrées, Steaks and Sides. Appetizer choices include Fois Gras Terrine, seasonal jam, brioche, market greens and pickled vegetables ($19); Oxtail Doughnut Holes, aupoivre sauce ($10); Lobster Tail Tempura, arugula & ginger-orange sauce ($22); and Shrimp De Jonghe, puff pastry, garlic, fine herbs ($17).
Chilled Plates feature seafood, including Oysters on the Half Shell (market price); Ahi Tuna Tartare, avocado, fresno chili, endive ($14); and Shrimp Cocktail, horseradish & candied lemon ($16). The ala carte Bread Service offers two house-made choices: Parker House Rolls with whipped butter & sea salt ($6) or Focaccia with seasonal dipping sauce ($6).
Salad & Soup choices include the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad, basil pesto, marinated red onions & basil ($16); Lobster Bisque, crème frâiche, tarragon ($11); Tableside Caesar, white anchovies, focaccia croutons, parmesan & pecorino ($19); the Market Salad, shaved market vegetables, Urban Till greens with sherry vinaigrette ($9); and the Grilled Wedge Salad, Urban Till baby iceberg, green goddess, lobster mitts, bacon, bleu cheese, tomato, scallions ($18). The Tableside Caesar can be prepared tableside for three or more persons.
The Entrées section of the menu includes the non-steak main courses, and there are seven from which to choose, providing plenty of variety for guests who prefer alternatives to steak. The Pork Chops are served with candied sweet potatoes and butter-bourbon gastrique ($27). Lamb Chops are accompanied by stuffed zucchini & hollandaise sauce ($27). The vegetarian Pasta entrée is built on a foundation of pappardelle, with market vegetables, basil pistou & parmesan ($18). Poultry lovers will enjoy the Green Circle Farm’s Chicken, a braised thigh with macaroni gratin, chicken jus ($24). Fish entrées include Wild Salmon, caramelized cauliflower, béarnaise ($27); Ahi Tuna, green beans amandine, smoked tomato butter ($28); and Halibut, pipperade, creamed kale, lobster demi ($30).
Knife’s Steaks section clearly emphasizes the restaurant’s keen philosophy: “Knife is proud to offer locally-sourced, house dry-aged beef. This premium product hails from local farms in Illinois and Iowa that uphold humane standards and practices as well as conservation.” There are five selections from which to choose and all steaks are served with house-made Journeyman steak sauce and choice of onion strings or hand-cut frites. Guests may order the Sirloin (10 oz, $27), Beef Tenderloin (6 oz, $33); Trio of Medallions with Bleu Cheese Crust (8 oz, $25), or the Boneless Ribeye (12 oz, $34). Knife’s signature steak is a 28-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye for Two, carved tableside and served with twice baked potatoes, green beans and au poivre ($89).
Embellishments to the steaks are plentiful. Guests can choose a Lobster Tail ($19), Shrimp ($4), Foie Gras ($9), Oscar Style ($14) or Bleu Cheese ($5). Several sauces are available as well: Béarnaise ($3), Barolo ($2), Hollandaise ($2), Butterbourbon ($2), Au Poivre ($3) and Smoked Tomato Butter ($2).
Rounding out the dinner menu are nine creative side accompaniments, including Smoked Frites, lemon aioli ($6); Onion Strings, roasted pepper aioli ($6); Macaroni Gratin, parmesan, Jarlsberg & lemon ($7); River Valley Ranch Mushroom en Pappiotte, portabella, cremini, shiitake, rosemary & roasted garlic ($9); Stuffed Zucchini, basil roasted peppers & parmesan ($7); Caramelized Cauliflower, sultanas, balsamic & capers ($8); Green Beans, almond tuile & butter ($8); Twice Baked Potato, bacon, fontina, scallions, crème frâiche ($8); and Whipped Potatoes, confit garlic with cream & butter ($7).
Dessert selections continue to showcase Chef Cottini’s modern interpretations of steakhouse classics. Choices include Flaming Gran Torino, bruléed spumoni, sponge cake with vanilla, pistachio & brandied black cherry ice creams ($13); Profiteroles-gluten free-with chocolate & Tahitian vanilla ice creams with house made fudge sauce ($9); Key Lime Version 3.14, raspberries, ginger graham crust, whipped cream ($11); Chocolate Layer Cake, chocolate mousse, fudge sauce, white chocolate ($12); Blossoming Apple Tart, Honeycrisp apples, almonds, cranberries, caramel, Saigon cinnamon ice cream ($13).
Sophisticated preparation and exciting presentation are the foundations of Chef Cottini’s food The menu descriptions purposefully understated on paper, belie the sophisticated preparation and exciting presentations that guests will experience, creating a memorable dining experience.
For example, the Grilled Wedge Salad starts with iceberg lettuce raised locally by Urban Till in Chicago specifically for Knife. The smaller lettuce heads enhance the natural flavor, and are grilled to add a charred smokiness. The traditional toppings, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and blue cheese are scattered around the plate, but Chef Cottini has gone the extra mile, dehydrating the bacon for twelve hours to make it extra-crisp.
Other appetizers, such as the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad, are re-invented at Knife as well. The tomato is peeled, hollowed, and filled with a locally produced Burrata, infused with local basil-pesto and roasted. The Oxtail Doughnut Holes are savory bites filled with classically braised oxtail and served with an au poivre sauce. Bread offerings are baked in-house with Parker House Rolls served fresh from the oven and an artisan, potato-based Focaccia provides a dairy-free option.
Steaks are served uncut. “We wouldn’t dare deprive our customers of the joy of cutting into an exceptional, tender steak with ease. It’s an experience unlike any other,” says Chef Cottini. The special 28-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye for Two is carved tableside – such a pleasure to watch the juices flow.
The Pork Chops have an intense marbling and flavor, served with a side of candied sweet potatoes seasoned with a spicy Saigon cinnamon, then topped with marshmallows and a butter bourbon gastrique. In a completely different category than any candied sweet potatoes many of our moms used to make.
Sourcing quality ingredients is a cornerstone of the Knife philosophy. The Wild Salmon is prepared with Skuna Bay Salmon, a top quality fish from a Vancouver Island, British Columbia vendor who exemplifies the sound ecological raising of farm-raised salmon. Sides are thoughtfully designed to enhance each flavor profile. The River Valley Ranch Mushroom en Pappiotte is a marinated portabella cap filled with shitake and cremini mushrooms, rosemary and roasted garlic. The Macaroni Gratin is jazzed up with a blend of cheddar and jarlsbergcheeses with lemon. The Stuffed Zucchini is sourced from local farmers, hollowed out and stuffed with a zucchini puree.
One example of Chef Cottini’s creativity is the Twice Baked Potato. This steakhouse standard side dish takes a contemporary turn as it stands up on its side, filled with an Italian fontina cheese, wrapped in bacon, and then roasted.
About Knife Knife, located at 4343 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, is a new contemporary steakhouse from David and Paula Byers and Chef Tim Cottini, the team behind the popular Fork restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Square. Knife is inspired by traditional steakhouse food and beverages and gives them a modern interpretation, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
According to Grubhub, the nation’s leading online meal delivery service, it’s time to order takeout/delivery food items that appear to be good luckfood for the Cubs as they begin the National League Championship Serieson Saturday. If the Cubs are to appear in the World Series for the first time since 1945 and ultimately clinch their first championship since 1908, you may want to order these foods on game day!
The following are the top 5 most ordered foods during game day wins in Chicago for the Cubs vs. game day losses.
In Chicago, hamachi kama was ordered 145% more when Cubs won than when they lost.
In Chicago, creamy mac and cheese was ordered 117% more when Cubs won than when they lost.
In Chicago, black bean taco was ordered 111% more when Cubs won than when they lost.
In Chicago, horiatiki salad was ordered 91% more when Cubs won than when they lost.
In Chicago, shepherd salad was ordered 88% more when Cubs won than when they lost.
Next Saturday October 22 from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, hundreds of Chicagoans will be on hand to enjoy the 2nd annual Fried Chicken & Champagne Fest. Proceeds from the event go towards financial assistance for hospitality and culinary arts students through the Kendall College Trust. A dozen award-winning Chicago chefs fry up their best recipes, and attendees munch those chicken renditions while sipping on a vast array of bubblies have been curated by Master Sommelier Serafin Alverado of headlining sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. And let’s just say, with the likes of Chef Lee Wolen from Michelin-starred Boka Restaurant participating, you are bound to exerience way beyond ordinary.
With over 60 different offerings from around the world – including luxury labels like Moet Imperial Rose, Dom Perignon and Palmes D’Or – everyone can find a perfect pairing or two. For a full list of Champagne, click here. Get more info and tickets here.
This place is a hidden treasure trove of delicious food served in a warm, cozy atmosphere – and it’s a great place to come when you’re hungry. You’ll notice from our pictures that we were obviously hungry; we couldn’t remember to take a picture of each course before we dove in and started eating!
The starter hummus benefited greatly when we poured the contents of the little bottle of Peri-Peri sauce served on the side for that purpose. Woke up the flavor of the spread and gave a nice spicy tang to the whole dish. It was served with crisp and uniquely cut vegetables – carrot discs, unusually shaped fingers of cucumber, thinly sliced strips of pepper, and little triangles of rich-doughed pita bread. Very tasty and nicely presented.
We both decided to go for the dark meat chicken quarter with two sides ($9.95 with two sides, $7.95 for just the chicken). Side choices included garlic bread – a delicious Portuguese roll nicely grilled in garlic butter – creamy smashed red potatoes, Machu peas – fresh crushed with mint and chili – and Portuguese rice. Pick your sides, then stroll over to the self-serve station and sample as many cups as you like of your choice(s) of Peri-Peri sauces, which come in a variety of hotnesses and include mild, garlic, wild herb, medium and hot. It’s a self-serve place for the most part, but helpful servers make the rounds on a regular basis. Our server that night was particularly willing to help – he got us napkins, extra drinks, and desserts, each with two spoons for sharing. We definitely felt taken care of.
The chicken was exquisitely grilled after having been marinated in their original Peri-Peri sauce, cooked to perfection, served up super juicy and just enough crisp in the skin to enhance the flavor beautifully. So tasty we found ourselves gnawing on the bones to mine the last of the juicy goodness. Our mashed potatoes and Machu peas and garlic bread were most satisfying. The Portuguese rice was quite mild until we kicked it up with some Peri-Peri sauce that brought it to life.
The choices of wines were impressive – two selections from South Africa, a couple from Portugal, and several others, as well as a sangria of the day and their regular featured red sangria, both refreshing and full of fresh fruit. My companion, who’s dined with sangria in Spain and Portugal many times, felt the big leaf of fresh basil in the mango sangria-of-the-day was an inspired touch.
The desserts were unexpectedly out of the ordinary. This visit we decided to pass on the custard tarts, a regular feature at Nando’s, so we could try some of the other options. From the super-moist carrot cake to the super-rich chocolate spoon cake, each served with a dollop of whipped cream, and the bottomless dish of frozen vanilla yogurt, we tucked in with vigor and didn’t quit until we had almost finished the three.
The place was rocking with Spanish/Portuguese music throughout the meal. It was just loud enough to liven the atmosphere without interfering with conversation. We thought they ought to pipe the music outside to let people know what a fun and delicious experience is on offer inside. The decor is fresh and original, using lots of natural wood with some unique decorating touches. Bathrooms are clean and cheerful, and benefit greatly from having the music piped in there as well.
Any time you are anywhere near State and Madison and you’re hungry, you will be very well satisfied if you make the trip over to South Wabash to meet the Peri-Peri staff and sample the menu. Friendliness and helpfulness were definitely the keys to the service kingdom at Nando’s Peri-Peri the night we were there. Sad to say, the restaurant is very hard to see from the street. No signage extends out onto or across the sidewalk. Perhaps they’ll remedy that soon, but in any case, this spot is well worth the search.